Pradeep Dalal, Creative Capital

TITLE: Director of Grants & Services, Arts Writers Grant Program

FUNDING AREAS: Literature, performing arts, film and video, and visual arts

CONTACT: pradeep@creative-capital.org, (212) 598-9900

IP TAKE: Dalal is an active—and busy—artist. That being said, he is an artist-grantmaker, which bodes well for likeminded individuals that other, shall we say, less creative grant makers may find difficult to understand. 

PROFILE: Mumbai-born Pradeep Dalal is a working artist and writer in his own right, which is an excellent qualification for his position as Director of Grants & Services of the Arts Writers Grant Program at Creative Capital, a program administered in partnership with the Warhol Foundation. The Arts Writers Grant Program is geared specifically toward supporting writers whose work "addresses contemporary visual art," particularly those who write directly about and promote contemporary works of visual art (read: post WWII). This area is something Dalal knows a little something about.

Dalal's visual work has been featured in exhibits at the Herter Art Gallery in Amherst, at Aljira Center for Contemporary Art in Newark, the New York Public Library, Orchard Gallery, ps122 Gallery, TART (San Francisco), and the Miami-Dade Public Library. His reviews and interviews—almost all art-related—have been published in ARTWURL, TeachingPhoto.com, Village Voice, Light & Shadows, and EGO Magazine, among many others. (And you can view lots of it on his website.) He also currently serves on the faculty at the International Center of Photography in New York where he also received MFA.

Dalal is aware of how peculiar a vocation art writing can be. One needs to be a good writer, but also have a knowledge of the history of the art you're writing about, as well as a well-rounded view of how the art is actually created. He has said, "In my estimation, the production of art is never as neat as it may seem in a disciplinary study." He knows the process, but he also knows you don't have to be an artist to write about it.

Truth be told, Dalal is much more of an artist and writer than a grants administrator. His experience lies much more within the art world than it does in the non-profit and philanthropy worlds. But for a program like the Arts Writers Grant Program that can mean very good things for those applying for these grants. The grants themselves range from around $7,000 to $30,000 and includes very strong support for bloggers and new media writers, areas Dalal is also quite familiar with.

The breakdown of grant amounts for various areas of writing generally look like this:

  • Article writers: $7,000 to $12,000
  • Blogs: $30,000
  • Books: $20,000 to $50,000
  • New Media: $10,000 to $15,000
  • Short-Form Writing: $30,000

As Dalal also recetly elaborated to IP, "We would like to help individual writers, as well as impact communities of artists and writers. On the one hand, the primary purpose of the grant is to allow art writers to buy time for their work, especially since so much arts writing is underpaid or unpaid. At a basic level, this is the most direct change that we can make—giving writers the time and means to work on the projects that they most want to work on. On the other hand, we want to support arts writing as a field. We believe that criticism, reviewing, journalism, and scholarship are necessary to the vitality of the arts; they keep conversations and debates alive—and lively — and frame our understanding of what art is, and can be."

He also adds, "We only give 20 grants each year and it is very competitive roughly 3% of applicants are selected to receive a grant. So I would emphasize the need to remain optimistic, and to apply more than once; the jurors are different each year. Also, the focus of the grant is on arts writing, and so we ask our evaluators to consider the quality of the writing as well as the originality and/or urgency of the project."

Dalal is also strongly committed to promoting multi-cultural perspectives. It could be informative to check out his own past work here. Dalal has also been the recipient of a Tierney Fellowship and holds a Master of Science in Architecture from MIT, and a bachelor's degree from the Center for Environmental Planning & Technology in India.

The Arts Writers Grant Program includes writing about architecture, design, film, theater, performance art, and music in their consideration, so no area is left out. For a good overview of past grant recipients and funding even before Dalal took the helm, you can peruse the list of grantees here.

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